Parsley Salad With Anchovies, Capers and Red Onions Armando Rafael for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Heather Meldrom, Prop Styling by Stephanie Hanes

OGDEN NASH said that "parsley is garstley," but I couldn't disagree more. Its vibrant flavor, bright-green color and crisp texture make it a great addition to most any savory dish. And it is woefully underutilized as a main ingredient.

Like many Americans, I was familiar with curly parsley first, but I've moved on to the more flavorful flat-leaf variety for use in hot dishes and salads. Still, l do like to garnish a fillet of sole or plate of scrambled eggs with a few perky sprigs of the curly kind from time to time.

Both varieties—along with celery, lovage and dill—belong to the carrot family. Parsley, which originally grew wild around the Mediterranean, is now an indispensable ingredient across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the U.S. Many basic components of French cooking—bouquet garni, persillade—are defined or partially defined by parsley, as are gremolata and salsa verde in Italy. Lebanon's national dish, tabbouleh, is essentially a parsley salad, and many Moroccan mezze showcase parsley, as does the country's herby chermoula marinade. In Spain the herb is so ubiquitous that butchers often throw it in for free with an order of meat.

I adapted the simple soup at right from a recipe by the British chef and food writer Simon Hopkinson. It includes butter, milk, onions and potatoes, all of which enrich the dish and lend heft without dulling the parsley's pungency. This soup serves double duty: Hot, it's satisfying comfort food in the cooler months; when the weather turns warm, serve it chilled, thinned with a little more milk or a light stock.

Deep-fried, parsley becomes one of my favorite cocktail snacks. The lightly battered sprigs are delicious with just a sprinkling of coarse salt, but here I offer them with a Vietnamese-style dipping sauce. Against the lip-smacking savor of Southeast Asian fish sauce, the parsley's fresh flavor really pops. Fish is a made-in-heaven match for parsley in the salad at right, too, which pits the raw herb's punch against anchovies as well as briny capers, red onion and a garlicky vinaigrette. It's surprising, delicious and incredibly good for you.

Indeed, this herb is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It's packed with vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc—hence its cachet with the latest generation of juicing enthusiasts. And because of its high chlorophyll content, it's been used as a breath freshener for centuries. So why limit yourself to garnish-size servings? It's time parsley moved to the center of the plate.

Parsley Salad With Anchovies, Capers and Red Onions

Total Time: 20 minutes Serves: 6

For the vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic, minced

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Juice of one lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

3 large bunches flat-leaf parsley, very roughly chopped (small stems included)

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and dried

4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Make vinaigrette: In a small jar, combine garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Shake and let sit 15 minutes to allow salt to dissolve. Add oil, shake again and, if possible, let sit 1 hour. Adjust seasoning if needed. (Vinaigrette can be stored in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.)

2. Make salad: In a large bowl, toss all salad ingredients with enough vinaigrette to moisten and flavor. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Parsley Soup

Total Time: 1 hour Serves: 6

Enlarge Image

Parsley Soup Armando Rafael for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Heather Meldrom, Prop Styling by Stephanie Hanes

9 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 large bunches flat-leaf parsley, leaves removed from large stems and kept separate, all roughly chopped

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

3¾ cups light chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup milk

Small croutons, toasted in butter, for garnish (optional)

1. Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and parsley stems and cook over low heat until soft and beginning to darken in color, 20 minutes. Add potatoes, stock, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer 20 minutes more. Add half of parsley leaves and simmer 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add remaining parsley leaves to pot and blanch 30 seconds. Drain parsley, then immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to halt cooking. Remove and squeeze dry in a kitchen towel. Set aside.

3. Once soup has cooled, add to a blender or food processor along with blanched parsley and purée until smooth.

4. Add milk to soup, return to pot and reheat over low-medium heat. Adjust salt and pepper if needed and top with croutons, if using. Serve hot or chilled.

Fried Parsley With Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Total Time: 35 minutes Serves: 6

Enlarge Image

Fried Parsley With Vietnamese Dipping SauceArmando Rafael for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Heather Meldrom, Prop Styling by Stephanie Hanes

For the dipping sauce:

½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

¼ cup sugar

3 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce

3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

¼ cup finely minced flat-leaf parsley

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

11 tablespoon finely minced jalapeño

For the fried parsley:

2 cups all-purpose flou

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 cups cold sparkling water

4 cups neutral oil, such as canola

36 large sprigs parsley

Coarse salt

1. Make dipping sauce: Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Let stand at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. (If made more than a few hours ahead, cover and refrigerate.)

2. Make batter: Whisk all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Stir in 2½ cups sparkling water. Do not over-mix; batter should be slightly lumpy, with the consistency of heavy cream. If it's too thick, stir in more sparkling water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until batter reaches desired consistency.

3. Fry parsley: In a high-sided sauté pan or casserole, heat 1 inch oil to 375 degrees, using a deep-fry or candy thermometer to monitor temperature. Hold 1 parsley sprig by the stem and dip it into the batter. Lift parsley out of bowl, letting excess batter drip off, then drop parsley carefully and gently into hot oil. Using a wire skimmer or tongs to flip, fry parsley until lightly golden, about 1 minute per side. Remove parsley from oil and set aside to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining parsley, frying only as many sprigs as will fit in pan without touching and maintaining a steady temperature of 375 degrees throughout the frying process.

4. Transfer fried parsley to a serving platter, sprinkle with coarse salt and serve with a bowl of dipping sauce alongside. Parsley can be kept in a 175-degree oven for up to an hour before serving.